Our comparison guides help you learn the difference between popular types of coffees. This time, it’s Americano vs latte, as we look at what these two popular coffees have in common and what sets them apart.
What is an Americano?
An Americano is an espresso with hot water to top it up and dilute it. It dates back to WWII when American soldiers stationed in Italy wanted a coffee that was more like the ones back home.
Topping up an espresso shot with hot water results in a coffee similar to a strong black coffee.
How is an Americano made?
To make an Americano, you must first pour an espresso shot into a coffee cup.
You should heat water to roughly 195°F, so it matches the temperature of the shot.
This should then be poured over the espresso shot to create an Americano.
What is a Latte?
A latte is an espresso drink that combines an espresso shot with steamed milk.
The drink is ideal for those that like the espresso taste but want something a bit sweeter and creamier.
The latte is also known as the cafe au lait and caffè latte, which translates directly from Italian as coffee and milk.
How is a latte made?
A traditional latte consists of two parts steamed milk and one part espresso.
To make a latte, you first use an espresso machine to make the espresso shot. You can also use the espresso machines to steam the milk, or use a milk frother, or heat the milk using a pot. The milk should be heated to 150°F.
When both the espresso and the milk are ready, you combine them in a coffee cup.
The Difference Between an Americano and Latte
Though they are both espresso drinks, Americanos and lattes are pretty different. An Americano is an espresso and hot water, while the latte uses hot milk instead of hot water to dilute the espresso coffee.
The latte is a sweeter option that takes away some of the bitterness associated with an espresso—using more steamed milk than espresso takes the edge and intensity away from the drink.
An Americano has a richer, earthier flavor than a traditionally brewed drip coffee, and adding hot water dilutes the espresso’s crema, making the Americano slightly more bitter.
Both drinks will have a similar caffeine level because they are both made using an espresso shot.
Diluting the shot with hot water or steamed milk doesn’t reduce the caffeine. It simply spreads it around the larger drink.
Americano vs. Latte
Choosing between an Americano and a latte should be relatively straightforward, as they are so different. You’re likely to have a clear preference for one over the other.
A latte is a drink for people that aren’t as keen on the bitterness that strong coffee can sometimes provide but still want their caffeine kick. The creamier, sweeter taste makes this one of the most popular coffee drinks in the world.
Many coffee shops offer a twist on traditional lattes with flavorings such as cinnamon, vanilla, and caramel, offering something different.
An Americano offers coffee drinkers an option that tastes like regular, strong black coffee.
Americano vs Latte: Final Thoughts
Many espresso-based beverages can taste bitter, which is why the latte is such a great option.
You still get to enjoy all the great aspects that espressos offer, but adding the steamed or frothed milk gives a much sweeter, creamier taste.
Alternatively, the Americano lets you enjoy a drink like a regular black coffee, only with a bolder flavor.
FAQs – Americano vs Latte
Sometimes the bitterness of an Americano can be a bit much, but you can change this by adding milk or sugar.
It is also possible to use cold water to create an Iced Americano or include different syrups to sweeten and add a different flavor. Vanilla, brown sugar, caramel, hazelnut, and toffee are popular syrup flavors that go well with an Americano.
Alternatively, honey is an excellent option for coffee drinkers who want a healthier way to sweeten their drink.
Caffè lattes are sweeter and creamier than other drinks made using espresso shots, but that doesn’t mean you can’t experiment. An iced latte is popular when it is warm outside and can be created using cold milk.
You can also add different flavors, such as the mocha latte for a chocolatey flavored coffee.
Adding a double shot to an Americano is a great way to increase the strength of your coffee. Using less water will also give the drink a stronger taste.
Like the Americano, using a double espresso shot will increase the strength. Alternatively, you could reduce the amount of milk. Using less milk won’t increase the caffeine but it will make the drink taste stronger.
Americanos and lattes can be made at home if you have an espresso machine. Though espresso machines can be expensive, the money you could save by not visiting your local coffee shop could make this a worthwhile investment over time.
I’m Joel, an espresso-loving coffee nerd. I got into coffee because I spent a lot of time in Milan as a kid and started liking coffee waaaay too young. I’m all about making sure espresso is treated with the same care as any other coffee – it’s not just a quick drink!